I asked on Twitter the other day if there would there be community interest in a regular show on the college radio station talking with residents about what’s going on in town.
Because for all that I live in town, I don’t work in town. As such, I could tell you more about politics in Avon Lake than I could about Oberlin City Council. There are others like me out there, and local radio seems like a natural way to reach people who might want to know more about what’s going on in town.
(The Internet is the same way, of course. So I blog and think of podcasting in addition to, or instead of the, radio. There are the newspapers in town as well, meaning the Oberlin News Tribune and the college publications to the extent they cover town issues.)
Oberlin City Manager Eric Norenberg tweeted in response that he “would be happy to participate periodically on a radio show talking about what’s going on in town. I would like to help.”
I did exactly this when I first moved here in 2009. It was called “In Oberlin”, and it had a prime spot at 11am-noon on Saturdays. (WOBC is enthustiastic about having more non-student “community” programming, which is part of their mandate.) I also combined event postings from the online college calendar with paper notices hanging in the library and elsewhere, then re-posted the event list in about 20 locations around town.
I eventually got tired of doing it every week — it was a lot of work, especially the flyer bit — and handed it off to the predecessor of the Oberlin Business Partnership. They found they didn’t have the drive or resources to continue it, so it died.
My radio guests included FAVA Education Director James Peake; City Council member Sharon Fairchild Soucy; heads of both the college and town libraries; and a representative of OMLPS (Oberlin Municipal Light and Power System). I also played locally created music.
If you’re serious about this, I’d be happy to help revive it, or some isotope of it, under your leadership. Let me know.
I would definitely be interested to know more about your experience, Tom. When you say you “eventually got tired,” was that after months? or years? Did you receive community feedback? Who were some of those you maybe didn’t get to talk with that, in relaunching, you would be interested in getting in touch with first? I’d rather walk than run into this if it means doing better over the long haul.
Hi, Peter. I stopped doing it after about six months. The real time drain was the calendar, not the radio program — the latter took maybe an hour or so per week to pick the music and line up the guest, plus the actual time on air. The calendar took maybe 3-4 hours per week.
It’s hard to say what the feedback was, because there wasn’t a great mechanism for feedback. My email address was on the flyers, but I don’t think anyone ever contacted me that way. In face-to-face conversations, those who were aware of it liked it. Probably only a very small minority of people were aware of it.
As for potential guests… there’s no shortage of those. 🙂 There are entire categories unexplored:
* 7 members of City Council
* 2-3 dozen owners of Oberlin businesses
* Lots of artists of various kinds
* Other city officials (Let’s talk sewers! But seriously.)
* Leaders of local nonprofits and churches
* 2-3 dozen department heads at the college
* Plus professors with unusual characteristics (e.g., being from a lesser-known country, particularly famous for their works or areas of study, etc..)
* Music professors who could perform on-air
* Administrators (for example, did you know the college has an official liaison with the town?)
* Students with unusual accomplishments (there’s an expert-level chess player, for example) or projects.
Coming up with individual names is easy, and most people are happy to talk about themselves.
Please send me a private message if you’d like to talk further. (I assume you can do that as this blog’s administrator.)
Tom, I see no immediate way to message privately via WordPress. Please e-mail me (email@example.com) your preferred contact information and I would be happy to get in touch.